Tips to grow your choir: One of the indices of a growing choir is its numerical strength. To grow a choir, number should be paramount in the plan of the administrators of the choir. The larger the number, the more impactful the choir stands to become. Targets to increase numerically should be set. This could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. Various strategies could be devised for recruitment of new choir members. For example, potential members or targets could be invited to our performances and rehearsals. They could simply watch and enjoy themselves or be part of the activity, if they so desire. Don’t depend only on the traditional face-to-face sensitization or advert. Explore various publicity channels and the ICT. I personally recommend that whereas the music director takes this as one of his primary duties, a unit could also be responsible for recruitment. But most effectively, if the choir is sensitized about the benefits of having a large choir, the burden of recruitment is shared and becomes lighter.
Retention of those enrolled
Continuity is an important maxim in growing a choir. Continuity here relates to sustaining and maintaining your choir members. What plans do you have to retain your choristers? Don’t be fooled by their current enthusiasm. You cannot tell what discouraging event may occur in the life of your most fanatic chorister in future. But apart from the fanatics, the most vulnerable to leave the choir is the not-too-good or average chorister. They must never be intimidated by the expertise of their fellows. Keep on encouraging them to maintain a good sense of their worth and ability. Since the basis of the choir was and is Christ Jesus, always communicate that to them in every meeting. Use scriptural references to remind them of their commitment to Jesus through the music ministry. Send them sweet SMSs and call them regularly to know their welfare. It is very easy to be angry whenever they fail you, than to recall the successes you have recorded with them. So, always appreciate the efforts of your chorister. Appoint a secretary who should not only record attendance, but also go through the list to see who was absent from a meeting or rehearsal. Don’t take any absence for granted. Choristers will care no more for the choir then the choir cares about them; and this is hugely an administrative issue. Seek to know the needs of your members. They will appreciate it if they know you could pray for them, even if you are unable to directly meet their needs.
Don’t run stereotyped activities. Let your rehearsals and performances be unpredictable: spring up surprises from time to time.
Sometimes, choristers feel exhausted and cheerless after their wonderful ministrations. This could happen if they expend their energy on preparing to edify others only. They must be trained to also listen to God ministering through them. Very few choristers get edified through their own ministration. This is quite abnormal.
Let every performance be your advert
So much must be put into adequately preparing for every performance. Your performance should achieve at least two things, namely, blessing the souls of the listeners and attracting potential choristers. The evaluation of a choir lies in its performances. Through it, people would be either deterred or inspired to join. Make excellence your watchword. It is better to walk up to the microphone and announce to the congregation that the choir has postponed its ministration than to put up a shabby performance. No matter how good your choristers are, and no matter how much of a piece you know, make no presentation without a rehearsal (Don’t say, “We know the song.”). Many people may not agree to this, but it will keep you from embarrassments.
Music Director: Character outlasts charisma
Many great choirs met their demise through the hands of their music directors. From the use of uncouth language to unethical behaviours which are not in consonance with the word of Scriptures, the director must be blameless of such. He is the image-maker of the choir. He must treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Have a song bank
Do not fail to store all your performed songs. You would need them in future. Don’t ask me why and for what purpose. But if you do ask, my answer is that a song bank is to a choir what the library is to a school.A choir without a song bank is like a school without a library.
What is the need of rehearsing if you would have no opportunity to minister to people? Let people know what you do. You could record an interesting part of every rehearsal and then upload it on, say, Facebook or YouTube. After you have done this, tag as many friends as possible and encourage members of the choir to tag their friends. By this, people will be aware of what you do. Have a choir photo album; and periodically upload your group photos on the social media. This raises the profile of your choir.
Make your warm-ups entertaining
Usually, especially for choirs made up of adults, people attend rehearsals directly after work or school. They could feel stressed after the day’s activities. So, create some entertaining warm-ups or exercises that get people excited and make them at ease. Chatting about how their day went as warm-up is not a bad idea. Showing a short fun movie is also ok. Only be creative and help them settle into the rehearsal with sound minds.
Give a break
No matter how enthusiastic a choir is, it deserves a break. You give a break; don’t let the choir ask for it. They may ask for it in an inappropriate time, leading to your refusal. So, be sensitive to their yearnings. They have other things to do with their lives. Ensure you do not take the whole of their productive time. Encourage them to excel in other things too.
Relate with other choirs
Nobody is an encyclopedia of knowledge. Always examine your strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can do so by studying and relating with other choirs.
The aforementioned points could appear quite diplomatic, in favour of members of the choir. The truth is that they are the most important strand of the whole choir structure. Without them there will be no choir. However, there is a one-member advisory board that is essential to all choirs that seek for growth. That board member is called Mr. Discipline. Politely recruit people into the choir. However, DO NOT FAIL to set guidelines for the choir. Even the most spiritual people need a set of guidelines. This may cover punctuality, regularity, and others. Apply discipline when necessary, especially at the growing stage of the choir. This is the factor that will keep the needed people in the choir. The fear of some directors is not to lose anyone. Anyone who leaves the choir because of disciplinary actions meted out on him/her is not meant for the choir.
Also Read: How to prepare for a musical concert